This is a continuation of my trip from Los Angeles to Tokyo. When I originally booked this trip, I was booked in first class on a Boeing 747-400. About a month before the actual trip, I received an equipment change notice and saw my flight was downgraded from the Queen of the Skies to an Airbus A330-300. But not only was the aircraft downgraded, so was my seat as there are no first class seats on the Airbus A330-300s.
It just goes to show that nothing is guaranteed in this hobby and you should always expect a last minute equipment change. It helps to be flexible and informed about alternative flights and routes but since this leg was less than two hours, I wasn’t too worried about it and didn’t even bother switching to another flight.
Flight: OZ 102
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seoul (ICN) to Tokyo (NRT)
Depart: 9:00 AM on Monday (9:03 AM actual)
Arrive: 11:10 AM on Monday (11:14 AM actual)
Duration: 1hr 50mn
Seat: 4K Business Class
About 30 minutes prior to boarding time, I left the Asiana Business Class Lounge and walked over to my plane located at gate 49. From the lounge, it was about a 10 minute leisurely stroll through the terminal to the gate. I arrived at the gate with a few minutes to spare and took some pictures of the bird before boarding was called.
Boarding started with business class passengers and Star Alliance Gold members and all passengers boarded the plane through door 2L. I presented my boarding pass to the flight attendant, turned left, and made my way to seat 4K on the right side of the plane. This very short flight from Seoul to Tokyo was estimated to be 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Asiana Airlines uses these Airbus A330-300s for everything; including their short-haul, intra-Asia flights and long-haul flights to North American destinations such as Seattle. These older (but still very well-maintained), wide-body jets are configured with a two class cabin: Business Class and Travel Class (economy). Business class is located in the forward cabin with 30 seats. There are five rows of seats in a 2 x 2 x 2 layout. On this flight, 28 of the 30 seats were occupied and there were four flight attendants working the business class cabin.
Asiana Airlines has three different business class seats. The newest version is the “Business Smartium Class” seats. Those seats are only found on the brand new Airbus A380s and some of the refurbished Boeing 777-200s.
Then there are the rest of the planes that our configured with one of the two versions of their “standard” business class seats. This seat is the newer of the two versions. I recently flew from Seoul to Shanghai on a Boeing 767 that was configured with the older version. You can read my review of that seat here.
These standard business class seats are nearly identical to Thai Airways current business class seats. The fixed shell seats are marketed as “angled lie-flat” but in actuality, are more akin to a really good recliner seat than an angled lie-flat. With a 168 degrees of recline, they are definitely better than your typical “domestic first class” seats but are not comparable to any lie-flat seats.
Even though the seats are exactly the same as Thai’s, I found Asiana’s business class cabin to look ten times more classy than Thai’s. The warm earth tones and neutral colors made the cabin feel very bright and airy compared to Thai’s overuse of dull purples and pinks.
Seat Guru shows these seats to offer 26.5 inches of width. I’m gonna assume that is a typo and say they offer more like 20 inches of width and 60 inches of pitch. Each seat is equipped with a 15 inch IFE (in-flight entertainment) monitor, seat massage and lumbar support, foot rest, universal electrical outlet, reading lamp, two USB ports and a small privacy divider to separate the two passengers. There are small pockets at the seat to store your cell phone and other small electronics and overhead bins for your carry-ons.
These angled-recliner seats were not bad for this short flight but are not great for anything longer than a few hours. Due to its fixed shell design, I still maintained my personal space when the passenger in front of me reclined back. However, when my seat was completely reclined, the seat lacked proper support for my knees and legs. There was a gap between the bottom seat cushion and the leg support that made my legs feel like they were dangling. I can’t really describe it but just take my word for it. It felt awkward.
Waiting at my seat were a set of Asiana branded headphones and a pair of slippers. There were no pillows or blankets offered for this flight. After I settled into my seat, the flight attendant came by to offer me a glass of water or orange juice and Japanese arrival forms. I chose the orange juice, filled out my arrival cards and took some more pictures of the seat and cabin. As I was sitting there, the Purser came by to introduce herself. She advised me of our flight time, made some small talk and wished me a pleasant flight. Other flight attendants then came by to offer me newspapers and magazines.
Once we were airborne and reached our cruising altitude, the seatbelt signs were turned off and the flight attendants came by to set our tables and prepare for our meal service. Menus were distributed and service began with warm towels and a round of drinks. Nuts, warm or otherwise, were not served on this short flight.
For lunch, there were two meals options: Korean and Western. I opted for the Korean option which consisted of Korean rice porridge with duck and ginger and fresh fruit for dessert. The western option was a beef stew. Even though the cabin was almost completely full, lunch was served quickly and efficiently, starting with the front rows. Everything was served on one tray with another round of drinks.
The food was tasty and I highly recommend the Korean meals when flying Asiana as I find that they are always better than the western meal options.
After lunch, the flight attendants came by to offer additional refreshments, tea and coffee. My tray was then cleared and I took some time to explore the IFE system a bit more. This was an older system and the monitor was not the best quality. The resolution was not clear or crisp and even with all the window shades closed, it was hard to watch anything on the screen.
There was a small yet decent selection of on-demand movies, television shows, games and a moving map. Some of the new movies included Maleficent, X-Men Days of Future Past, Captain America 2, and Chef.
There are four bathrooms for business class passengers. Two are up front and two are behind the cabin. The bathrooms were standard size but had a window, bench and L’Occitane face and product products.
Service wise, the flight attendants were all fantastic. Some spoke English better than others but everything was said with a smile and they made a genuine effort to understand and assist us. Even on this short flight, they walked the cabin frequently and made sure we were all taken care of. Asiana really does have some of the best flight attendants around and I can’t say anything bad about them.
Overall, I enjoyed my Asiana Airlines business class trip. Besides being disappointed about the downgrade, I was happy with every aspect of this flight. The hard product was not bad for a short regional flight and the soft product including the food and service was top notch.
Other trip reports in this series:
- Introduction: How we booked our trip using United miles
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at LAX
- Air New Zealand Lounge at LAX
- Air China “Forbidden Pavilion” first class Los Angeles to Beijing, Boeing 777-300ER
- Air China first class lounge at PEK
- Air China business class Beijing to Seoul, Airbus A330-300
- Hilton Seoul
- United Airlines “BusinessFirst” Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita, Boeing 787-8
- Asiana business class lounge at ICN
- Asiana business class Seoul to Tokyo Narita, Airbus A330-300
- Conrad Tokyo
- Hilton Tokyo
- ANA business class lounge at NRT
- Thai Airways “Royal Silk” business class Tokyo Narita to Bangkok, Boeing 747-400
- Thai Airways Royal Silk Lounge at BKK
- Thai Airways “Royal Silk” business class Bangkok to Auckland, Boeing 777-200
- Hilton Auckland
- Emperor Lounge at AKL
- Air New Zealand Koru Club Lounge at AKL
- Air New Zealand “Business Premier” Auckland to Shanghai, Boeing 777-200
- Air China business class lounge at PVG
- Air China business class Shanghai to Taipei, Airbus A330-300
- EVA Air Evergreen Lounge at TPE
- EVA Air “Royal Laurel” business class Taipei to Los Angeles, Boeing 777-300ER